A Mixed Blessing 

​I went to my mother’s house to spend some time with my dad yesterday. There was no answer when I knocked on the door, so I let myself in. As I walked down the hall, I could hear that the TV was on in Daddy’s room. His door was cracked open just a bit, so I peeked in. 

From where I stood, I could see Dad sitting in his chair. His feet were flat on the floor and his hands were folded over his lap, as he stared up at the TV on the mantle. I didn’t want to startle him, so I gently tapped on the door. I said, “It’s me, Daddy.” He looked in my general direction, so I opened the door. As I stood there, looking at him looking at me, I quickly became aware that he had no idea who I was. He stood up and asked me what I was doing in the house. I could feel my heart breaking a little more each time I told him my name and that I was his daughter. It took a few minutes for him to really recognize me, or so I had thought. He seemed embarrassed and confused about the whole situation, but he finally followed me into the den to visit. 

We took our seats and dove right in to an extremely awkward silence. Finally, Dad began to tell me how he missed me and asked why I was away for so long. I explained that it was a long drive and that I visit as often as possible, though I realized it wasn’t enough. He then began asking questions about where I lived and whether or not I knew someone named Ben. And…welcome back to Square 1! 

Daddy and I were alone, for a change, and I wanted to make good use of our time together. I began to bring up stories and special memories that I had from my childhood. He seemed to recall a couple of things and we shared a laugh or two. I’m not sure if he actually knew who I was, or if he was just going along with me, but it was wonderful to share those things with him. 

Some time had passed when it dawned on me that, if ever there were a good time to say my goodbyes to Dad, that time was then. I didn’t want to, but as I looked at Dad, I saw, for what felt like the very first time, the toll that such a long life had taken on my father. White whiskers covered the face of a man who had lived two lives, in one. The first half was wild and wicked, followed by a second act that told the story of a repentant man. Heavy lids hung over eyes that were, not so long ago, clear and sparkling. Downturned was the mouth of one who spewed both blessings and curses on those he felt deserving of either. Before me sat the aged likeness of the man who once was; taken away by Father Time’s own hand. Before me sat the only man who ever, truly, loved me. 

For the next short while, I looked into Daddy’s questioning eyes and selfishly said everything that I needed to say to him.  I’m not sure that he understood a single word, but I had to take advantage of such a rare opportunity. I told my father all of the things I never got to say to loved ones who’d gone in years past, so that I knew there would be no regret when Daddy’s time came. Whether or not he understood, my words fell upon his ears. I pray they made way to his heart. 

When I’d finished, we gave each other a big hug, then settled in to watch the end of the soap opera that was on TV in the den. Neither of us could figure out how to change the channel…

And Then There Was Cake


My God, it’s quiet in this house this evening. A soft fog hangs about the tree tops, and there is not a critter to be seen or heard. Alone with my thoughts, I feel haunted and out of sorts. I’m going to visit my cousin, Ally, tomorrow. Perhaps that will pull me out of this never-ending funk.

Since I woke up this morning, one thought has filled my mind: I am nobody’s Valentine. It’s the first time since I can remember. Even after Bennie passed, my best friend made certain that he sent a gift and such. He always spoiled me like that. He found the love of his life about nine months ago. She didn’t much like him having a female bestie, even though he insisted that he and I were a set, not to be separated. Silly man… So, I did the right thing, said my goodbyes, and blocked him from my life in every way I could think of. I miss him a lot, but it was for the best. But now…well, now I just feel alone.

This Valentine’s Day, Bennie and I would have endured our 32nd anniversary. The 30th was the last we shared and, though I deeply regret it now, I wouldn’t acknowledge it, or allow him to. I just couldn’t play ‘happy’ when things were so terribly wrong between us. My favorite anniversary was our 10th. Bennie had fallen asleep and forgot to pick me up from work that afternoon. By the time he finally managed to get up to the dress shop I worked at, we were about to close and the night was ruined, as far as I was concerned. We had a huge argument on the way home. I was furious…he was laughing. Since his uncle was in town, I made him drop me off and go to his mom’s house and visit with him. I knew he wanted to, anyway. So, he comes home really late and is about half drunk. He was smiling and brought me a heart shaped cake that his mother made for us. He handed me the cake, then sat down and pulled a taco out of a paper sack and began to eat it.

Standing there, cake in hand…watching him eat…I just got more and more angry. I mean…I was so pissed off that I could barely breathe! Before I could think about it, I threw the cake at him. Then came the tears…Oh, the drama! He jumped up, covered in cake. The next thing I know, we’re both yelling at the top of our lungs. It just went on and on for what seemed like forever. Then, for some reason, we both started laughing. We laughed till we cried. Then, we did it in the cake that was all over the floor! lol! IT WAS AWESOME! After that, we went and danced on the beach, did a lil drinkin and a lot more lovin. Got home with the sunrise and slept like babies. I’ll never forget it. Or Bennie, when he was the man of my dreams.



I miss Bennie. Valentine’s Day would have been our 32nd anniversary. Yes, things were bad at the end. But, I’m hard pressed to remember those things, as I seem to have burned thru the bad memories now and I only recall the ones I like…the happy ones. He was such a great father, and he loved his job and, once upon a time, he loved being my husband. And I, more than anything, loved being his wife. It’s true…when things went bad, they went very bad. But, for a very long time, they were so good that I know I’ll never have that with anyone else.

Even when things were bad, I always woke up to a heart shaped box of candy every Valentine’s Day. Not this year. This year will be the same as last year. I’ll wake up, alone, as I do every day, and nothing will be special or fun and the day will drag on as I keep remembering that it’s our anniversary and he’s not here. Unlike last year, though, I will remember ‘good’ Bennie and the wonderful times we shared. I’ll wish, much as I do every day, that I could be with him, somehow. No matter how bad things were with him, I’d give anything to have him back. Even if it were just to say goodbye. I always wanted him to be happy and I will never understand why he just wouldn’t leave and go be happy with someone else. I think that, if he had, this would all be so much simpler. I hate that he died so unhappy with me and our life.

I feel so guilty that I didn’t eulogize him, (or pick someone else to), at his service. It wasn’t really a service as much as it was a visitation, considering that it was so disorganized. But, I just couldn’t get up there and talk about what a wonderful husband he was when three of his girlfriends were sitting in the pews. I never realized anything as quickly as I realized that his friends and I knew two, totally different, people. In that moment, I felt frozen. It’s intimidating to have ‘the other women’ at your husband’s funeral. I was barely there, anyway. I didn’t even dress up. I could barely force myself to go and, were it not for the boys and the promise of a bottle of whiskey, I probably wouldn’t have. It was just too much. It’s still too damn much.

If I could go back in time, I’d have left and stayed gone. I would have made him move on in life without me. I know he’d have found happiness and love and all of those things we want for our loved ones, even if it hurts. He would have still died at the same time, I’m sure. He’d outlived the doctor’s predictions by three years. He knew he was on borrowed time. We all did. BUT, it would have been a happier time. Maybe he’d have given up pills for someone else. Or, someone else would have had the job of watching him to make sure he was breathing that last year he lived. Maybe, when she poked him on the arm to rouse him, he wouldn’t have screamed at her, or put his hand on that fucking rifle. Maybe he’d have treated her the way he should have treated me. I promise you that, if he had, he would’ve had a very happy woman on his hands, in spite of everything else.


​It’s dark out, on this chilly Mayberry morning. Still and quiet, the critters must be huddled in warm secret places, awaiting the sunshine. Even so, I expect that they’ll be up and around soon. Unlike me, they are not deterred by life’s inconveniences. 

Last night, my dreams were filled with bloody remnants of memories, once subjugated to my will to forget. These days, it is I who endures life as a slave to their will. Now loosed, they scream through the night with a terrifying vengeance. It is my own fault that they’ve found their freedom, as I have become exhausted from fighting against them for so long. I think that’s a natural part of the aging process for everyone. The good and the bad come home to roost eventually. 

Bad Bitches 

We are Thelma and Louise’s rhinestone studded happily ever after. Cousins and best friends, from the start. We protected one another when drugs and alcohol ruled our homes. When the unspeakable happened, we cried together. She wore my wedding gown…at her first wedding. I hid her from him the first, and last, time he hit her.

We’ve been both mother and daughter to each other for as long as I can remember. As adults we could not have lived more different lives. I had, at long last, my white picket fence. She had her Harley. I had a husband…she took a wife. She was a leather goddess and I was a housewife. 

In the end, shit went down hard for both of us. We couldn’t figure out a way to outrun our raising, as hard as we tried. We are both smothered by memories that refuse to fade. It’s OK, though. We have each other. 

Now and then, we get together. We tip a glass, share a lil smoke, and we say…FUCK EM! We laugh at terrible things as the hours go by. We celebrate the demise of certain people, and celebrate ourselves for having outlived the sonsofbitches. We symbolically spit on the graves of evil people while we headbang to AC/DC and motherfucking Pantera. We ARE Phil and Dime, damnit! Okay, maybe we aren’t, but we are, in our lil world, a couple of glorious bitches who have been to Hell and back. And we lived to tell the tale. 

You know what? Fuck Thelma and Louise. We are Elle and Ally and we know that, if you want happily ever after, you gotta put in work for that shit. We are killer macho girl dudes. We are bad bitches. Together, we are a force of nature and you best stay out of our way. 

Word.  😎


He refuses to sleep, that brother of mine

He and his demons, in lock step; they silently march about the house

There are moments when I hear a cacophony of pots and pans being tossed around in the kitchen

Perhaps that is the voice of my own demons

As no one wakes, but me

From the very lightest sleep 

Mother’s clocks tick tock as my brother mumbles from the hallway now

He’s stumbling up the stairs 

Loudly cursing

I hear his bedroom door slam shut

And I pray that this is the end of it


An entire night has passed 

As the small hours roll on, neither I, nor my brother has slept

One, for the love of the attack

The other, for fear of closing her eyes when he’s near

His footsteps have grown heavy in the last hours

As he becomes more impatient with the situation

He does not want me here 

I do not want to be here

Oh, Sun, please rise and wake me from this nightmare…

…My Brother’s Keeper? 

I’m spending the night at Mom’s tonight. My bipolar schizophrenic brother, Captain Crazy, is here, as well. He’s upstairs. A quiet whistle drifts down the stairs in between out loud conversations he’s having with the people in his head. I am awake. I am afraid. My brother terrifies me. 

For such a large man, the Captain can be surprisingly quiet. He moves throughout the house; half ghost, half man. It’s unnerving. He’s upstairs one minute, and right behind the couch where I’m sitting the next. From his mouth come the most disgusting accusations and statements that I’ve ever heard spoken. His face is contorted and twisted as he spews his filthy words at me. It scares me to death. I forgot my pistol, again. I feel defenseless. 

My mother is sleeping and I’m not quite sure what to do. I’m fifty one years old and am worried about waking my mother. This feels like a horrible dream. I hate how he enjoys my fear, even though I don’t show it. It’s as if he can smell it, or something. His eyes absolutely twinkle as he describes, in a girl child’s voice, how he wishes I were dead and that people like me will burn in the Lake of Fire. He says I blaspheme every time I talk back to him. He says he is God and that even Jesus Christ will pay for his blasphemy one day. He is God. He is God. He is God. 

My chest hurts. I want to cry, but can’t let him see. I want to leave, but that would cause hurt feelings. I need sleep, but I refuse to close my eyes. 

Fuck Em

​Heavy eyes open, leveling a blurry stare at the night that still dances beyond my window. I stumble out of bed, bones aching, feeling my way to my chair in the early morning darkness. Meds, caffeine, and a few smokes…the necessary things to get my head right. 

My bed looks as though there was a fight in it. Pillows and bedding, all on the floor. Remembrances of bloody dreams fill my sleepy head, as I consider what they mean. I’m old. I’ve lived my life once; why must I live it, again, each night? Post Traumatic Stress? There is nothing ‘post’ about it, as these things live and breathe, just as I do, even now. They are the faceless storytellers that visit me nightly, and they refuse to take their place in the past. It is what it is, I suppose. 
Another smoke, or five, and I pull my mind away from the night, looking forward to the day ahead. Plans made to finish things I should’ve done weeks ago. It is only during these early hours that I have this heavy sense of time. I get upset, knowing that the thing that keeps my pain at a livable level, is also the thing that robs me of time…of my perception of it. It’s the thing that makes one day bleed into the next in a seamless, endless, blur. I hate this poison that robs me of my ability to communicate the way I used to. It steals my creativity, my zest for life, and my sense of simple humanity. I feel ungrounded and lost, save for these few fleeting hours every morning. On one hand, this ‘medicine’ takes as much as it gives. On the other…there would be no life worth having without it. 

People think I don’t understand what addiction means, where my meds are concerned. But, while I’m not an addict, I’ve known a few. The last was my late husband. Norco and Soma. All day, every day, when he wasn’t working. I spent the last year of his life watching him breathe, terrified he’d stop. That was just the last year. Because of his addiction, we lost almost everything. There was nothing I could do to stop it. My God, I’ve never seen someone take so long to die. In the end, it was an aortic aneurysm that took him. A problem exacerbated by the way opiods weaken arteries. They can also make people hateful and cruel in ways you’d never expect. But, that’s just a bonus, I guess. 

When I think about it, I’ve been waiting on addicts and drunks to straighten up my whole life. My dad, grandmother…my uncle, my cousin, my son…Bennie. I resent them all, in some way. I can’t help it. They took so much. They each took a huge piece of whatever was good in me, that much I know. You’re wasting your time to love an addict. Dope always wins. So does alcohol. So, I hope people will forgive me if I don’t give a shit about people who end up strung out because they took a pill, then went to heroin. Fuck them. Because, with or without the pill, they’d have ended up junkies anyway. Taking everything from those around them…now blaming the one thing that makes my life livable for their problems. I hate these people and I’m not sorry for it. And I damn well understand. I’ve lost good and plenty to addiction. Fuck. Them. All. 

Snowy Morning 

Lil bird tracks in the snow.

Sitting here, mid-morning, in my comfy chair, I feel like the most fortunate woman on this earth. The temperature has only risen one degree, leaving last night’s fluffy blanket of snow in tact. 

As I look out the window, I find that I cannot believe that this is my life. In moments like this, I am absolutely lost in gratitude. My needs are met. My wants, in check. I am surrounded by beauty. Who could ask for more? 

Goin Down To Toxic Town 

It’s a cold, grey, morning. Mayberry is quietly accepting of the day, such as it is. An almost imperceptible breeze moves through nearly bare trees, gently suggesting that what remains should fall. I adore this place. 

I’m going to Toxic Town midweek to see my doctor. I’m only staying overnight and will be coming home right after my appointment. My brother, Captain Crazy, is staying at Mom’s house and I cannot handle being there with him lurking about. He threatened my life when I was there for Christmas. He did so in a voice that sounded exactly like a little girl. I’m used to dealing with the men who live in his head, but my macho, gruff, bearded man of a brother speaking to me in that voice was bone chilling. I screamed at him to stay away from me, upset that I’d forgotten to bring my gun on the visit. He’s hit me before and I’m absolutely no match for him. He walked into the kitchen and I could hear the little girl voice telling the others to do away with me. They were all discussing it like a group of friends might discuss where to have lunch. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep again until I was home safe in Mayberry. 

There are lots of reasons that I’d rather avoid going to Toxic Town. Mainly, in spite of the Captain’s insanity, it’s that my dad doesn’t recognize me anymore. I knew this day would come but, when it happened during my Christmas visit, I found that I’m not prepared for it. Not at all. I’m worried that it’s only going to be worse each time I see him. We can barely even have a conversation about anything from our mutual past. We do talk about the war. That, he remembers. I find it so odd that he’d recall something he experienced a lifetime ago, but forgets who I am. That says a lot about war, I think. I’m glad to listen to his stories. I’m the only one who knows them as he tells them. Everyone else hears them from me. Dad’s told me war stories my whole life. As I got much older, I realized that I was the only one in the family that knew his stories. One day, I asked him why that was. Dad told me that I was the only one who’d ever asked about his time in the Corps. To this day, I think that’s the saddest thing I ever heard. Every veteran needs someone who wants to know their stories. They should at least feel like they can tell them, and not have to keep war buried inside of them. War is a huge and hungry thing. So huge that it’s the one certain memory left of a 93 year old man who has even forgotten the face of his daughter. That blows my mind and breaks my heart. 

I suppose that I should set aside this blanket and get something done around here. I’d much rather sit here, at my window, watching for those stubborn lil leaves to fall…